Posted on Monday 31 August 2009

"public health care would lead to people being forced to their deathbeds…"
Vets’ group assails Fox, GOP over ‘suicide’ manual claim
Raw Story

by Daniel Tencer
August 31, 2009

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s claim that a Veterans’ Administration handbook urges veterans to "commit suicide" is an "asinine assertion with no basis in fact," says a veterans’ group. The group, Veterans for Common Sense, is demanding an apology from Steele for making the claim, and from Fox News for perpetuating the claim.

Steele made the comments on Fox Tuesday, during a debate about health care reform. Arguing that public health care would lead to people being forced to their deathbeds, Steele used the VA health system as proof this would come to pass. "Just look at the situation with our veterans, when you have a manual out there telling our veterans stuff like, ‘are you really of value to your community,’ you know, encouraging them to commit suicide," Steele said.

"Let me be absolutely clear, Steele lied. There is no VA manual encouraging veterans to commit suicide," said Paul Sullivan, the executive director of VCS, in a press release.

The controversy began August 18, when an op-ed appeared in the Wall Street Journal, written by the former head of faith-based initiatives for the Bush administration, Jim Towey, claiming that the VA manual for veterans amounts to a "death book." Since then, the talking point has been picked up by opponents of health care reform. Towey, as the White House has pointed out, runs an organization that offers a competing handbook to the one provided by the VA.

Veterans for Common Sense is also seeking redressal from Fox News for what it says was an unfair cropping of quotes from a VA document "to falsely suggest that the Obama administration is pressuring veterans to end their lives prematurely," as Media Matters reported.
Like my friend Ralph [It just makes me sick], I’m worn out with the National Debate. It’s exhausting. The premise of this particular Talking Point is that public health care will cut medical costs by killing people.  Last week it was "death panels." Now it’s "suicide manuals." Before that, it was something like:
  • Obama is a Moslem
  • Obama is a Communist
  • Obama is a Socialist
  • Obama is a Fascist
  • Obama is a Racist
  • Obama is all of the above
My wife has had a way of describing this particular strategy. She says, "If you throw enough wet noodles at the wall, some of them will stick." I wasn’t so taken with that analogy for a long time, but I’m coming around. I wanted the National Debate to be deeper than that.

We had taped the Kennedy Funeral – the Celebration of Kennedy’s life – and I watched a piece of it last night. The eloquence of the speakers was stirring – Robert Kennedy’s son, Senator Chris Dodd, even Senator Orin Hatch. Their words sounded like an echo in some ancient hall when the world was younger, more hopeful. All of these Republican Talking Points make me feel like I live in a different, nastier world where lies and contempt are the currency of political life.

I remember this feeling from the Clinton years. They hadn’t perfected their attacks quite yet. Fox News didn’t run on so many public tvs then. The former Administration respected the time honored rule of staying off the public stage. But they did go after Bill Clinton with a vengeance, and they finally got him [with his help]. I remember being exhausted by it all and becoming politically apathetic. A lot of us were, and they snuck in George W. Bush under the wire – a legacy Republican who opened the gates to a torrent of unprincipled, evil men who literally deconstructed our government.

Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chaffee was defeated in 2006, though he was one of the few Moderate Republicans in the Senate.

In his new book, former Rhode Island Republican senator Lincoln Chafee reveals that even before President Bush was sworn into office after the 2000 elections, Cheney had rejected the “moderate course” laid out in their campaign:
    The former Senator describes a December 2000 meeting of Republican moderates with Vice President-elect Cheney. Chafee listened as Cheney swore off the moderate course he and Bush had just finished championing in their campaign. Hearing Cheney say “the campaign was over and that our actions in office would not be dictated by what had to be said in the campaign,” Chafee writes, was “the most demoralizing moment of my seven-year tenure in the Senate.”
In his book, Chafee angrily adds about the incident, “Mr. Cheney tore our best campaign promises to shreds and the moderates acquiesced instead of pelting him with outrage.”
To me, that’s the whole point of our current political scene. It’s only about power, not about governing. It’s only about saying whatever they think will win over enough votes. If they think that they can stir up some outrage with this "death panel" stuff, they’ll harp on "death panels." If they think calling Obama a whatever will win a few, they’ll call Obama a whatever.

Yesterday, Cheney was on tv explaining that Obama was going back on his promises – not to prosecute CIA Agents who followed Yoo’s Memos. Holder has instigated an investigation of whether Agents overstepped the Memos, yet Cheney presents this as a broken promise. And as Chaffee pointed out, Cheney isn’t himself exactly a promise keeper. Just more wet noodles thrown against the wall.

Will they wear us down like they did last time? Can they make it work again? Will they sneak another front man under the wire and infect the whole of government once more? I think it might be in our hands again. It’s not only that they gain supporters with this tactic. They wear us down and we go subterranean just to escape the din of negativity. I’m afraid that the only way to beat it is to endure it, and continue to fight. But it’s exhausting…
    August 31, 2009 | 12:49 PM

    I’m exhausted and depressed about all the lies etc. I’m reading a new biography “The Woman Behind the New Deal The life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and his moral conscience” I’ve come to the conclusion that we need a Frances Perkins type of person. Do we have anybody in 2009 like her? She was a person who could get so much done for the average person in a time when woman were told to stay home and let the man make the important decisions.

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